SRINAGAR: The absence of a well-established juice manufacturing facility in Jammu and Kashmir is benefitting the industries in the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh (HP).
According to the fruits dealers in Kashmir Valley, tons of low-grade apples are being transported to Himachal Pradesh daily for use in the juice industries.
“Thirty per cent of our annual production of apples falls in the low-grade category because of hailstorms and disease. And bulk of it now goes to HP for making juices, because we only have the raw material but not the industry for manufacture of juices,” Bashir Ahmad Bashir, President of New Kashmir Fruit Growers Association (NKFGA) here, told Kashmir Reader.
He said HP is an “emerging market” for the sale of low-grade apples, which cannot be supplied as fruits to the markets outside the state.
“Kashmir does not have the capacity to effectively use the inferior-quality apples,” he said. “We don’t have any major juice industry in either public or private sector. There is a plant each available in government and private sector, but they are not capable of utilising all the raw material that is available.”
The growers said “optimum use” of C-grade apples in Kashmir could not only fetch them better returns but would also ensure that only better-quality apples are fed into the markets within and outside the state.
This year, the state government reintroduced Market Intervention Scheme (MIS), under which it would procure low-quality C-grade apples, first, from Sopore, Shopian, Dachinipora, and Anantnag areas.
It is to ensure that only the quality produce is exported. The government intends to procure 9,000 MT of low-quality apples from the growers.
Vice president of the NKFGA, Anil Kumar, questioned the scheme being implemented in absence of any plans for utilisation of the low-quality crop.
“We could not only offer consumers in the sate best quality juice but we could also export it. We could do what HP is doing with the low-quality apples it procures from Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, criticising the government for selecting only few areas in the Valley under MIS.